It is with a touch of sadness that I write this, my last, President’s Message. I am a strong believer in term limits, and I have had the great honor of serving as WBH’s president for the last ten years. It’s time to change things up a bit and introduce new and different perspectives to continue to advance WBH as the greatest state bowhunting organization in the country. The good news is that we have a great Board of Directors and some very capable folks ready to step up and lead WBH into a very bright future.
The last 10 years have been momentous, both for bowhunting in Wisconsin and for WBH. We have seen dramatic changes in deer regulations and internally within WBH, and now, dealing with the Covid crisis. One thing that hasn’t changed is the loyalty shown by you, the members. Despite the fact that bowhunting license sales in Wisconsin have dropped almost by half over the last few years due to so many switching to crossbows, we have not had a corresponding drop in membership. Your continued support is phenomenal and appreciated.
One thing I would like to clear up again, for one last time: WBH is NOT anti-crossbow. In fact, we have long supported those that can’t, or choose not to, hunt with conventional archery equipment. We have many members that hunt with crossbows, and most of us also deer hunt with other weapons like rifles, pistols, shotguns and muzzleloaders. Our concern has always been that because crossbows offer such a dramatic advantage over any archery equipment, that if lumped in with bowhunting, their great success over a very long season will eventually lead to further, unnecessary, restrictions on bowhunters. The obvious solution of course, would be to provide a crossbow season that offers approximately the same chance of success as bowhunters and gun hunters have. That way everyone has a similar opportunity and no group, including gun hunters, has cause to complain. WBH is not opposed to crossbows, however WBH is a bowhunting organization and by most legal definitions, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, crossbows are not bows. Although we support gun hunting and all other forms of hunting, including crossbows, our commitment is first and foremost to the bowhunters of Wisconsin – and we make no apologies for that.
Covid 19 has changed all of our lives in so many ways. WBH was fortunate to hold our convention last March just before the country shut down. And because of our one-person office and dedicated new office manager, we have been able to maintain operations. Many other groups, businesses and individuals haven’t been so lucky. However, Covid has impacted our membership and fundraising efforts, and unless it abates soon, could even threaten our convention next March. But, with indications that the infection rate is declining and the recent availability of vaccines, we are very optimistic that the convention will go on as scheduled. We will be returning to the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Stevens Point, a long-time favorite and convenient venue for many of our members. This year we have the great fortune of a sponsor that stepped up to finance much of the substantial cost of the convention! Stay Sharp Guides, the maker of Stay Sharp broadhead sharpeners recognized our need and has offered to be the corporate sponsor of our 2021 convention, which will allow us to do some great things for all that attend. Also, because Wisconsin Traditional Archers had to cancel their convention due to Covid 19, we have offered to have them join us to at least hold their meeting. (Many members belong to both organizations).
We have a great line-up of seminars and are excited to host our banquet speaker, Stephanie Muche, a young lady from Wisconsin, now living in Alaska, who has become a very accomplished Alaska bowhunter, with some exciting stories to tell. Our bucket raffles will be better than ever, with some great prizes, compliments of our sponsor, Stay Sharp Guides. Other convention information is included in this issue, but I want to assure everyone attending that all steps will be taken to promote social distancing throughout the event, and that the facility has a comprehensive sanitation protocol and has implemented extensive virus mitigation procedures to safeguard the health of all attending.
2021 will offer new challenges. Our budget will be limited because of the impact of Covid 19 on clubs that have had to cancel fundraising banquets and events, that they have so generously held in the past. We also had to cancel our ATV raffle, a big fundraiser for us, due to loss of several venues to sell tickets and a postal regulation that has (temporarily) prevented us from mailing tickets to our members. Fortunately, some of that has been offset by several of you that have stepped up to become WBH Benefactors in the new Benefactors program. I am always awestruck at the level of dedication and support that so many of you provide to this organization. We will have another raffle for a Rambo electric bike and accessories, which will be drawn in June. (Ad in this magazine) And, we will be able to mail tickets, and hopefully be able to show it at some events this Spring. Buying tickets will help support WBH and best of all, you could ride away on some awesome bowhunting transportation.
In 2021 WBH will continue to fight for rebuilding our deer herd in several areas of the state where the population is woefully low. It’s a complex issue, with competing interests like agriculture and forestry, and even predator advocates, pushing for even fewer deer in many cases. There are also DNR committees pushing hard for earlier and longer gun seasons and other proposals that work against bowhunters. We will continue to fight on your behalf to promote, preserve and protect all aspects of bowhunting here in Wisconsin. Representing an organization of thousands of active, dues-paying (and voting) members gives us a huge advantage in those negotiations.
The future is bright, and that’s because of you! Thank you.